Using tragedy to discuss truth!

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Today, the world is mourning the loss of two entertainment icons; Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett. Big news! Nearly every channel, radio station, news feed and internet site has carried some aspect of these stories.This was a status update from a friends Facebook this morning, “Dang, can’t get Thriller out of my head this morning. It’s on every channel.” We’ll see television specials on it for the next week at least. Last night alone, two of the major networks ran an hour piece on each of the stars.

It’ll soon be like reliving my teens and early 20’s again —Farah Fawcett posters will probably be reprinted and hanging all over town and we’ll be hearing Michael Jackson’s music all over the radio.

We can’t avoid the attention the deaths of these icons of entertainment bring.  Regardless of how you feel about these individuals, there is no debating their impact on our culture during their lifetime. And, their sudden deaths will be a topic for a long time to come.

How are you handling the discussion of the death of Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett in your families?  The reality of life (and death) produces opportunities to discuss pertinent and biblical truths with our children.  Death is a subject we’d prefer to “leave on the shelf”.  Despite the anti-aging craze our culture is embracing, we will age and, eventually, die.  Death’s reality is unavoidable.  When it happens to those seemingly “bigger than life”, it takes on a certain aura that “if it can happen to them, it can happen to me.”  For those who have lost loved ones, that truth is all to real.

As a dad, I’ve used times like these to approach the “unapproachable” with our children.  I consider it a great opportunity to ask questions about the lives of those in the news.  The lives of Farah and Michael were marked by both the spectacular and the scandalous.  One of the most interesting questions being asked out of their deaths is, “how will they be remembered–for their artistic and professional accomplishments or their personal demons?”  Regardless of how you’d answer that (and there is no right or wrong response), it is an interesting discussion topic.

So, dad, I encourage you to use the upcoming media blitz covering these tragic deaths of well known people to spur conversation with your family.  Here are just a few thoughts to help you begin to stimulate that discussion:

  • If your kids are at an appropriate age, discuss the fact that even stars die and that one day so will we.  How will we be remembered?  What legacy do we want to leave?  Do we have the assurance that when our days on this earth are over, we can know where we are heading?
  • Use Farah Fawcett’s reluctance to marry to open up a discussion about why co-habitation is not part of God’s plan for a man and a woman…Marriage and commitment are.
  • Discuss some of the changes in Michael Jackson’s appearance over the years to discuss how God looks at our hearts, not at our external beauty.  What would drive him to be so consumed with his appearance?
  • Talk about how they each used their God-given skills to impact the world.  Yet, they each seemed unhappy in many ways, including the use of drugs, unwilling to commit to relationships, seclusion, surrogate children, hiding in public and living with accusations of child abuse.
  • Financial discussions about how you can make $20 million / year and be $400 million in debt?
  • Discuss the pain of loss and how that loss is not God’s plan.  Death is separation but, thanks be to God and Jesus Christ that it isn’t  the end for those who are in Christ.

Certainly Michael and Farrah have left an indelible mark on this world.  We will listen to his music for the rest of our lives (maybe more than we want over the next few days 😉 and admire and emulate his dancing.  We will admire Farrah’s beauty and recall her roles on TV and in movies, too.  Yet, in the end, the real issue isn’t what they will be remembered for on this earth (what they sang, how they looked or how much money they had or didn’t have).  No, what will matter for them as it will be for us is “how does God see us”.  Remember to share that with your kids!

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